Archive for March, 2015

Value-Added Products in the Local Economy

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Fo bakers, pies are a great example of value-added products.

Value-added food products are foods that use ingredients that are enhanced or changed to increase their value. The term is usually applied to farmers who take raw produce and turn it into products which can be sold at a higher price. Typically this refers to produce which has been transformed into specialty foods such as jams, preserves, and jellies; salsas; sauces; vegetables; and of course baked goods such as fruit pies, crisps, cobblers, muffins, etc.

Small peach pies are excellent market sellers.

For bakers it means taking raw ingredients to create baked goods. Fruit pies seem to be the most appealing, but other produce can enhance your basic recipes to create a seasonal and healthful allure.

Clockwise from top left: Onion stuffed breads, plum frangipane tarts, corn muffins, peach strudel, blueberry muffins, apple pear coffeecake.

Using local ingredients increases your sales appeal. An article in Bake magazine explains, “Over the past 10 years, there has been a surge in consumer demand for locally produced foods, along with widening availability… More than half of consumers seek out locally produced foods… and almost half are willing to pay up to 10% more for such items. One in three would pay up to 25% more, and a third of consumers also claimed to consciously purchase local foods at least once a week.”

Home-Based Baking at its Best! If you are using local ingredients such as produce, dairy, or eggs, proudly market yourself to shoppers in your area.

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The New Entrepreneurial Spirit

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Food entrepreneurs are reaching out and a new movement is gaining strength: creating the socially conscious business.

As society changes and people become more aware of the world around them, some folks are spurred to action, either with their initial business concept or at some point along the way.

Business News Daily has an interesting article, Small Business Owners See Value of Social Responsibility. “Small and medium-size business owners have a number of reasons for starting a business, but new research has found that making a difference in the community is the top reason.”

The next big growth driver: social consciousness? “The next big growth driver for food companies may not be an ingredient or flavor, but rather a social cause” is another article found in Food Business News.

Socially conscious businesses now exist everywhere. These businesses can start with the intention of doing good, or just fall into it as a natural course of dealing with the public. In this video we learn about Rosa’s, a pizza shop started by Wall Street dropout Mason Wartman.

Wartman took a customer's suggestion and created an interesting concept.

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Customers can pre-purchase dollar slices for those in need.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! This concept may be called “paying it forward” or “giving back.” However it’s phrased, you have something interesting to think about.

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Food Safety and the New Food Entrepreneur

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

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This photo was taken on a hot summer day at the farmers’ market. Food was not covered, flies and yellow jackets were feasting on the pizzas, and the vendor was eating while handling food.

The issue of food safety scares me. I’m always amazed that more people don’t get sick from eating prepared foods purchased outside the home, whether from a supermarket, restaurant, or farmers’ market. (I’ve written many times about violations at farmers’ markets).

I’ve been in the food industry for more than thirty years and I’ve seen first-hand how food is handled by people working in commercial kitchens. Throughout my book, The (Faux) Pastry Chef: How I Found My Baking Fix, I write about many of the repulsive things I’ve seen. From the introduction, page 3:

For foodies interested in a look behind the scenes
I’m sorry if this book spoils your appetite. When I purchase items in a bakery or eat in a restaurant, I often think back to what I observed in the kitchens where I worked. I have to not think about what might be happening when my food is being prepared.

New food entrepreneurs with no food/business background are some of the worst offenders. Folks who are new to the business world are often so excited about a dream come true, but so overwhelmed with responsibility, food safety often ends up at the bottom of their to-do list. Food Safety News has a salmonella story which does not surprise me. Expert: Boston Restaurants Closed for Salmonella Had ‘Pitiful’ Food Safety Program. If you are a food entrepreneur, please remember that food safety belongs at the top of your priority list. A healthy customer is a repeat customer.

For more about this subject: Food Safety News has updated information about food borne illness outbreaks and food recalls. More about food recalls from the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Home-Based Baking at its Best! My best advice to everyone who wants to contribute to good public health: Never sell any food you wouldn’t eat yourself.

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Is Co-Packing Right for You?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Many people have a favorite family recipe they would like to sell on store shelves across the country. New food entrepreneurs unfamiliar with the food industry, imagine the cheapest and easiest way to accomplish this (while making a profit) is to find a food manufacturing business that can produce and sell their product.

They are thinking about using a “co-packer” – a business that has the ability to produce a recipe, getting it ready for the marketplace. If this is the route you want to go, we need to remove the idea of “cheap” and “easy.”

You will need to work with this business on converting your home kitchen recipe into a commercially produced product. This includes multiple testing for initial conversion, scale-up, packaging, labeling, shelf life, and storage. And unless you pick up and deliver products yourself, you’ll need to find salespeople and a distribution method. This process is not inexpensive. Be prepared to spend well over $100,000 for start-up; plus on-going expenses.

That’s a lot to think about! For more details about this process, read about finding a co-packer; and from the Institute of Food TechnologistsAn Insider’s Guide to Co-manufacturing.

For anyone interested in becoming a food entrepreneur, I always suggest that the simplest way to start is to do small scale production. It is the cheapest and easiest method. Check your cottage food laws to see if it’s possible to begin in your home kitchen. Or look into renting a commercial kitchen so that you can develop, market, and sell the product yourself.

Sampling is important. These entrepreneurs attend food shows to give out samples and create PR for their products.

How else would shoppers distinguish their products from the many competing products on a shelf?

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Aim big, start small!

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